If you have good listening skills and can type quickly, then you may be well-suited to a job as a transcriber. Transcribers fulfill an important role in many different industries by transforming conversations into written text.
In this article, we will take a deeper look into what transcribers do, what skills and qualifications they need, and a step-by-step guide on how to become a transcriber.
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What Does a Transcriber Do?
Transcribers are responsible for converting spoken conversations or audio files into written text, occasionally with time stamps and names. They listen to audio recordings, such as interviews, lectures, or meetings, and transcribe the content accurately and efficiently. The transcribed material can be in various formats, such as text documents, captions for videos, or subtitles for movies.
In some cases, transcribers may be required to include time codes in the transcripts. Time coding involves marking specific points in the audio where certain events occur or when the speakers change. This helps to synchronize the text with the audio for reference or editing purposes.
There are several types of transcription, such as:
- Medical transcription
- Legal transcription
- Academic transcription
- Captioning & subtitling
While AI has evolved to be able to do basic transcription, human talent is still needed and highly sought-after. In fact, the transcription industry in the US is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.8% from 2023 to 2030. Artificial intelligence fails to understand certain things that are necessary for accurate transcription, such as context, recognizing non-verbal cues, and more.
The Transcription Process
Below is a step-by-step summary of what you can expect as a transcriber. The transcription process is not as simple as it sounds, and it is crucial to understand exactly what a transcriber is responsible for.
✅ Listen to the recording: To begin the transcription process, listen very carefully to the audio files presented to you. Take care to identify any background noise that may be pertinent to the context.
✅ Transcribe the text: Take care to include every detail when transcribing the audio, such as the names of the speakers and any non-verbal cues.
✅ Edit & format the text: Once you have a transcription of the full conversation, edit the text for grammatical errors and remove unnecessary information (such as interruptions or small talk). Format the text so that it is easily readable and understandable for your client.
✅ Review the final transcript: Listen to the audio files again and review your transcription to ensure accuracy. This involves checking for errors or omissions that may have been missed in the first draft.
How to Become a Transcriber
You do not need a tertiary education in order to become a transcriber. All that you will need is a good understanding of grammar and spelling, the ability to type relatively quickly, and perhaps a short training course for if you’re looking to specialize. For example, TAFE offers a Certification in Medical Transcription.
Build a portfolio to showcase your expertise to potential employers, as well as your knowledge and experience as a transcriber. Browse online job boards for entry-level transcription opportunities, or alternatively, apply for voluntary work or internships to gain practical experience. The average transcriber types approximately 60 words per minute, so it is essential that you practice your typing skills, as well as grammar and spelling.
Computer: A reliable computer is essential for transcribers. It should have sufficient processing power, memory, and storage capacity to handle audio files and transcription software smoothly.
Transcription software: Transcribers use specialized transcription software that allows them to play audio files, control playback speed, and conveniently type or annotate the transcript. Examples of popular and free-to-use transcription software include Express Scribe and oTranscribe.
Headphones: High-quality headphones are crucial for transcribers to listen to audio recordings clearly. Closed-back headphones are preferred as they help minimize background noise and improve focus on the spoken content. It is also advisable to choose comfortable headphones for long transcription sessions.
Foot pedal (optional): Some transcribers prefer using a foot pedal, which is a hardware device connected to the computer. The foot pedal allows them to control audio playback using their feet, leaving their hands free for typing. This can significantly increase productivity and accuracy.
Internet connection: A stable and fast internet connection is necessary for transcribers, especially when working with online transcription platforms or accessing audio files stored in the cloud. It also facilitates communication with clients or colleagues, file transfers, and research.
Word processing software: Transcribers often use word processing software, such as Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or specialized transcription software that includes a built-in text editor. These tools enable transcribers to type the transcript, format the text, and perform editing and proofreading tasks.
Backup storage: It’s crucial to have a backup storage solution to protect completed transcriptions and audio files. This can be an external hard drive, cloud storage services (e.g., Dropbox, Google Drive), or a combination of both. Regularly backing up your files helps prevent data loss.
Search for Jobs
There are a few different job platforms that specifically cater to transcribers. These platforms include:
Many of these platforms, such as TranscribeMe and Rev, require no prior transcription experience. They will give you a basic typing and grammar quiz to assess your skill level, and as soon as you pass you can start earning.
In an evolving technological landscape where artificial intelligence is gaining capabilities in transcription, human transcribers still hold a valuable edge due to their contextual understanding, recognizing non-verbal cues, and adapting to various content types.
Deciding to become a transcriber can be a rewarding career choice for individuals with excellent listening skills, fast typing abilities, and attention to detail. Transcribers play a crucial role in converting spoken content into written form, serving various industries such as healthcare, legal, academia, and media. By following these steps and continuously improving your skills and professionalism, you can embark on a successful career as a transcriber.